Thursday, February 28, 2013

Why I don't do HOW-TO posts about writing

As you may know from perusing my blog, posts about how to write are scarce if at all existent. You might ask why this is? I thought I would take this opportunity to explain to you why. First, there is no hard and fast rule for writing. Uh, wait. That's not true. Okay, there is at least one hard and fast rule about writing. Want to know what it is?

Okay, here it is:

I know, I know. There, there. Don't feel like I was being mean. That wasn't my intention. I was just being frank. It's the truth. It's as plain and simple as that. If you've come here looking for inspiration, then I apologize if you can't get it from my blog posts. Really, I do. I once subscribed to several author blogs, hoping to glean bits of wisdom and motivation to help me finish a book. More often, I spent most of my time reading someone else telling me that little piece of advice rather than putting it into practice. Essentially, I was procrastinating and looking for commiseration from other writers.

Secondly, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of writers out there eagerly willing to dispense with writerly advice about writing. Not only on blogs, but in videos as well. Just check out the Youtubes. Instead of tossing my two cents into the advice ocean, I choose to spend my time writing, or doing any one of my other hobbies like photography, mask making, guitar playing, and learning math and science (which, both, exercise my tired old brain enough).

Thirdly, I see much of that advice as mechanism to enable procrastination. Much of it is long in the tooth, comforting a person about their procrastination (because, truth is, we all procrastinate) while patting them on the back and delivering a pep-talk. Let's face facts. If you truly want to exorcise that book from within you, you'll sit your ass in the chair and do it. Don't wait for someone to blow sweet sugary smoke up your ass. Just DO IT!

When I first sat down to write a book, I had read Stephen King's On Writing. That book was a motivational machine that got me psyched and ready to write. I followed his advice (the best I could) and sat down everyday to bang out my thousand words. Some days, the words flowed like water over Niagara Falls; other days, I was like a cranky old man with an enlarged prostrate, trying like hell to squeeze a few drops. In those instances, I would vow to make up the difference on another day, thus rolling my deficit forward to be paid later. That amounted to amassing a large snowball of words waiting for me to dispense like an avalanche. But, here's the deal: I did it! After about three months, I had my first draft complete. It was roughly 90,000 words. Unfortunately, I still haven't polished that turd into something publishable, but I learned a hell of a lot from the experience, not least of which was the discipline to sit down and power through the difficult days. Neither, did I let writer's block stop me. Since that time, if I've hit a snag, I set the work aside and worked on another story. Kind of like knitting several different scarves, all of which are various lengths. Eventually, I get them all finished and released.

Fourthly, the reason I don't like to dispense writing advice is because it's like doling out financial or legal advice. It's not a one-size-fits-all task. I may not write like Stephen King and you may not write like me or Stephen King. Everyone gets to the finish line in their own way. You might like writing a hundred words a day instead of a thousand. Some writers are content to bang out a book in a month or (please!) even a week. On the other hand, I like to take my time, honing it and polishing it until it's the best I can make it. Then there are those who are content to just proselytize the desire to write a book and never set out on the journey. You may be one of the latter. In that case, my advice is all for naught. I could've best used my time to work on my own writing. Who knows?

Lastly, I don't consider myself any kind of authority on the process of writing. I don't hold an MFA or any other credentials for that matter. I'm just a guy who has written. I don't even have a huge audience (maybe not even a small audience, who knows?), but I have written. Sure, I need motivation from time to time, so I visit writers' blogs to help get me in the mood. I've whittled the list of blogs I read down though. Instead, I now consult only one or two, and sometimes, not even for motivation, but to learn some new marketing strategies (btw, if you're a marketing genius and have some tips to help me increase sales, shoot me an email). If you're hell bent on reading author's blogs to help kick your muse in the ass so he/she will sprinkle that magic dust, then I recommend subscribing to an author who tells it like it is and one you can relate to. For me, that's Chuck Wendig's blog, Terrible Minds. Chuck shoots straight without sugar coating his advice and he speaks candidly, which really appeals to me. Be forewarned, he's profane (probably why I like it).

So, if it's warm and cozy writer hugs you're looking for here, I apologize. Please, if you really want to write that book, take my one bit of advice mentioned above. That's really all you need. Thanks for stopping by!

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